Posts Tagged ‘jesse mccartney’

The First Airstraightener

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

 Shock news!

You may recall that last week I talked about how the movie adaptation of popular cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender is whitewashing all the Asian characters. This guy was cast as the lead antagonist:


None more Aryan! The protest letters came flooding in, and then, remarkably, it was discovered that the little blond boy had ’scheduling conflicts’. His busy XBox 360 schedule would not allow him to appear in the film after all. You might think that the producers would look around for another pale fair-haired Anglo to fill the role, but no! As chance would have it, between originally casting the role and having to recast the role, a movie has come out that has won the heart of moviegoers and critics alike and looks dead set to grab a few Oscars, and lo and behold, it has an Asian cast! And one of them is a boy!


Look everyone, it’s Dev Patel, star of Slumdog Millionare and Skins, and person of colour! Thanks to the revelation that people will actually go and see a film with Asians in it, an Asian director making a film full of Asian characters has been coaxed into taking the risk of casting an Asian actor. Alleluia and pass the tarka dhal.

Of course, he’s technically the wrong kind of Asian - the character is East Asian in appearance, and Patel is of Gujurati Indian heritage - and sure, this now means the only character-of-colour in the film is the villain, but, hey, baby steps, Hollywood. Baby steps. Maybe if one of the other actors also has to drop out due to ’scheduling conflicts’ (like, they were supposed to go to the mall with their mom that day), the producers can cast noted  Māori actor Temuera Morrison, master of a thousand ethnicities. He’s managed Mexican, Native American, Vietnamese and even Mandalorian. I’m sure he’d be perfect as Katara, the fourteen-year-old Asian girl with ‘waterbending’ powers.

In other news (well, not news; stuff that has happened), actor Ryan Eggold has bemoaned the lack of originality in television today. ”It’s extremely depressing that there’s no original content to be made,” he told Digital Spy. “Hollywood seems to be out of ideas and just taking old things that have worked and redoing them.”

Eggold currently stars in 90210, the sequel to the 90s TV series Beverly Hills 90210.

The ‘M’ Stands for ‘Master Race’

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

The twist to the next M Night Shyamalan movie has already been revealed. The movie is an adaptation of the hit cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the twist is… well, see if you can work it out from these pictures. The actors are shown on the left; the characters they are playing are on the right.


Yes, the twist is that everyone in Asia is white! (Also, it was the plants all along! Damn you, the plants!)

I’ve never watched Avatar: The Last Airbender (heh heh heh, ‘airbender’), but I’m sufficiently alert to the realities of the world to see that this casting is, well, offensive. Avatar is set in a fictional world rather than in our world, but the culture and the characters depicted are still recognisably predominantly Asian. 

At best, this casting shows blithe insensitivity on the part of Paramount and Nickelodeon to matters of race. At worst it suggests open contempt for the idea of making a big budget movie with an Asian cast - even though this is a property with an established audience of people who already know and love these characters.

Now it seems a large section of that audience intends to stay away from the movie. A letter-writing campaign has been launched in protest. This can’t be what the film’s makers wanted.


What I find truly perplexing about the all-white casting is that, aside from the blond Frankie Muniz lookalike - washed-up teenybopper Jesse McCartney - none of these people have any box office cachet. If you’re going to cast nobodies, cast Asian nobodies! Some of these actors were cast because they know martial arts, but I’m fairly sure there must be some young unknown Asian actors out there who would also know a bit of kung fu.

It’s not these kids’ fault that they’ve inherited this shitstorm, of course, so I feel a little sorry for them. Except for Jackson Rathbone (first picture), whose response to the controversy around his casting was to tell MTV,  ”I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. … [H]opefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit”.

A tan. He wants to be the Al Jolson of the 21st century.

At this stage I doubt the parts are going to be recast, but even so, I think the letter-writing campaign is a worthwhile initiative that sends an important message. Whitewashing ought not to have a place in modern Hollywood. If you’re part of any minority, you want to see yourself represented in arts, music, movies and TV. When the stories finally get made that ought to include you, and you find that you’ve been cropped out of the picture, that’s worth making one hell of a noise about. That’s the twist that M Night Shyamalan didn’t see coming.